The Four Seasons in Limassol, Cyprus has been open since 1993 and is independently owned and operated by Muskita Hotels Ltd. It’s a Five Star deluxe property with 304 rooms, 6 restaurants, 4 bars, and extensive conference facilities, Shiseido Spa, a full range of sports and fitness facilities and a shopping area with exclusive boutiques, watches and jewelry. The Hotel is situated on its own sandy beach, which has been awarded with the Blue Flag (a symbol of cleanliness and safety awarded by the European Community) and is 8 kilometers East of Limassol city center.
The Four Seasons’ management is constantly looking for effective ways to build strong relations with its customers and optimize sales programs. The Hotel’s website is its important marketing tool that helps the property to attract and retain elite guests from all over the World.
Mr. Nick Aristou, the property’s Executive Director, decided to enhance the website with an online business chat solution. “Our objective was to make it easy for our customers to navigate the website,” says Mr. Aristou. “Also, we wanted to convert as many visitors into customers as possible by making it easy for them to complete bookings.”
Mr. Aristou, who has a strong technology background, did a thorough review of available products, including such market leaders as LivePerson. However, none of them matched Four Season’s specific needs. The main limitations were the lack of multilingual support, patchy compatibility with tablet users and absence of robust archival features.
Then Mr. Aristou came across LiveWebAssist, a chat solution deployed on the IceWarp site, and realized it was the perfect match. He decided to try it out on the Four Season’s site, but then found out it was not the final release yet. Still, Mr. Aristou went ahead and launched LiveWebAssist at Four Seasons’ webpage, assigning three operators to interact with customers.
From the very beginning, the Four Season’s customer service team was making the most of LiveWebAssist’s multilingual interface and Knowledgebase support features to interact with customers in English, Greek and Russian.. The property’s sales and marketing team started to see LiveWebAssist’s effect almost immediately – the bookings increased.
“LiveWebAssist contributed a lot to this on many occasions,” says Mr. Aristou. “Our analysis showed that customers booked because they were given real-time explanations through the chat service.”
Four Season’s technology team also liked LiveWebAssist’s capability to recognize returning Website visitors.
“The excellent feature helps an operator to resume the conversation from the same spot where it was ended or interrupted,” says Mr. Aristou. “That makes users spend on average 7-8 minutes on the site, a very high indicator.”
In an approach radically different form other chat products, LiveWebAsisst supports the InLine no-flash chat architecture, eliminating pop-up windows. This design allows more visitors to initiate chat sessions, because they don’t have to deal with popup blockers and assures usability for visitors from tablets like iPad or Android.
Additionally, this option gives actionable information about the visitors’ behavior.
“The operators can tell exactly where the user is on the site, so they can offer them immediate assistance, tell them where to go and answer questions with a high degree of relevancy,” says Mr. Aristou. “It’s a very useful feature.”
LiveWebAssist’s analytical capabilities helped the hotel to optimize its Internet marketing strategy.
“LiveWebAssist analytics capabilities are very good,” notes Mr. Aristou. “They are helping us to locate sources our customers are coming from. It’s a very effective tool, especially when used in conjunction with Google analytics.”
Another feature Four Seasons’ team found practical is LiveWebAssist Knowledgebase. At any point of the conversation, it allows to insert pre-approved messages (such as terms and conditions, cancellation policy, etc.) as well as URLs and graphics with a single click.
“It has been very useful, we have almost three pages of knowledgebase content now,” notes Mr. Aristou. “The option provides more professional outlook and helps to standardize responses. Operators don’t have to think about how to phrase them. In the near future, we are planning to extend the knowledgebase with images and, possibly, videos.”
According to Four Seasons’ technology team estimates, the training and ramp-up process was painless.
“The functionality of the program is simple, anybody who can use a social chat program can get accustomed to LiveWebAssist very easily,” notes Mr. Aristou.
For the support function, Four Seasons team used LiveWebAssist Direct Chat Technology, the VIP connection that gives dedicated access to key IceWarp support personnel. This option makes it possible to reach the important contacts no matter where they are – at their desktop, off-site, or on the road.
“The VIP link option has been very useful, and IceWarp support team was very prompt,” says Mr. Aristou.
Four Seasons is now planning to expand LiveWebAssist functionality.
“We are considered using it on mobile devices, and, possibly, integrating the solution with a new CRM system,” says Mr. Aristou.
In the future, the property is thinking about hiring more operators and starting to use LiveWebAssist automated translation functionality.
According to Mr. Aristou’s estimates, LiveWebAssist was showing compelling ROI from the day it was implemented.
“Just from my own observation, from the number of bookings that have been converted directly through LiveWebAssist, I can say that it has paid for itself almost immediately” says Mr. Aristou he would definitely recommend LiveWebAssist to other organizations in the hospitality industry.
“Selling hotel rooms is always a complex matter,” says Mr. Aristou. “Usually, hotel bookings for five+ star hotels are a very high-value item. It’s not a $10-20 purchase from Amazon. They are usually $5,000-6,000 per transactionand there are many issues for potential customers to understand before they actually commit to book. Anything that can give a customer greater confidence and prompt him to make a decision to buy is very valuable. LiveWebAssist gives us exactly that.”
Dimension Data New Zealand has deployed a Microsoft Private Cloud to allow Education New Zealand better service its students and market New Zealand education internationally.
The new solution that focuses on securely improving the user experience of Education New Zealand's globally spread employees, giving them better tools to be more effective and productive when recruiting students, or pursuing opportunities for New Zealand institutions to educate students offshore. "Dimension Data's deployment of Microsoft Private Cloud will put Education New Zealand in a position where it can be more competitive within the global market, giving its marketing staff around the world access to more tools to be more productive and efficient in a secure manner," said Dimension Data New Zealand's Nick Halikias.
Education New Zealand chose the hybrid cloud model, which utilises both on-premise and cloud-based solutions dedicated solely to the organisation. The solution will deliver more effective mail messaging, data applications, web solutions, as well as back-end infrastructure and services. "The hybrid model has the flexibility of having a fit for purpose on-premise solution, balanced with the cost-efficiencies of the cloud," said Halikias.
Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines has upgraded its customer service by offering new services to travellers after renewing and extending its agreement with travel technology company Amadeus.
Hainan Airlines renewed its Amadeus e-Retail agreement to power global online sales, and has signed up for Amadeus e-Personalise and Award Shopper to deliver online shopping. Also the e-Personalise solution tracks user behaviour and offer bespoke recommendations and access to a range of travel options based on the context of the user.
The e-Retail platform enables customers across the world to book their tickets in more than 30 languages. In addition, Amadeus Award Shopper means customers can redeem their frequent flyer miles online and also buy tickets using a combination of miles and cash.
Ericsson selected to deliver new core network for future services
Wednesday 20 August, 2014: Vodafone has announced it is completely modernising and consolidating its core network with Ericsson, allowing it to utilise the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications infrastructure.
Vodafone's new core network will offer greater network agility and flexibility, create cost efficiencies, and enable the introduction of new LTE (4G) services. Among these will be the introduction of Voice over 4G (also known as VoLTE), which the company will launch in 2015 following trials later this year.
"The current 4G networks primarily focus on providing faster data services. Customers have rapidly adopted 4G smartphones, which offer very fast data speeds. But no Australian network is offering voice calls on its 4G network, and our new core network will enable us to do that," said Vodafone Chief Technology Officer Benoit Hanssen.
Last month, Vodafone said its 4G network would reach 95 per cent of Australia's metropolitan population by the end of 2014 by utilising its low-band 850MHz spectrum holding.
"With our enhanced indoor 4G coverage and voice calls on the same network, our customers will feel the difference. The call audio quality will be high definition, and call connection times will be significantly shorter," said Mr Hanssen.
"In other words, there will be virtually no time lag between the customer pressing the call button and the call being connected when they are using 4G."
Part of Vodafone's multi-billion network investment
Today's announcement is part of the multi-billion dollar investment the company is making in improving its network and customer experience.
The five-year network evolution program will also see Vodafone adopting Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) in the core network which will provide greater network agility and flexibility and create cost efficiencies.
"Vodafone is the first operator in Australia to commit to this technology in its core network, meaning we will have one of the most advanced networks in the world," said Mr Hanssen.
"It cements Vodafone's reputation as one of the world leaders in mobile network technology."
"Our customers will be the big winners as Vodafone will have an even more reliable and resilient network – for them, it will simply mean an even better customer experience."
Ericsson says network will deliver greater performance, efficiency
Head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, Håkan Eriksson, said his team is ready to work with Vodafone to create an even better service for its customers. "Vodafone will have world's leading technology in their core network which will enable it to deliver greater network reliability, performance and efficiency," he said.